Cyclists' Defence Fund challenges Sheffield Council on dangerous roads
The action, brought on behalf of the charity by trustee Martyn Bolt, relates to Strines Moor in the Peak District.
The route linking the A616 from Langsett to the A57 at Ladybower has been used in stages of the Tour of Britain and is likely to feature in Sheffield's proposal to host part of the Tour de France during 2016.
In some places it is impossible to cycle the road without hitting a pothole or other defect, and as gradients are as steep as one in four, the charity fears for the safety of road users.
"This is not a request solely for cyclists," said Martyn, "but for the many motor cyclists, and car drivers who also use the Strines."
The action has been launched using a little-known part of the law, section 56 of the Highways Act 1980, under which anyone can ask that the highway authority takes action on a road that is 'out of repair', where failure to do so can lead to a hearing in the magistrates court.
The council has responded to the initial contact by CDF admitting it is responsible for the road. It also said, "Strines Moor/Upper Midhope Village roads are inspected on a regular basis and repairs undertaken to defects that exceed safety intervention levels, currently defined as a trip or pot hole with a vertical trip height of 20mm or more, in locations which could be considered to be potentially hazardous."
Martyn Bolt has dismissed the council’s claims to have inspected the road, saying, "I would invite the head of Sheffield highways to join me on a cycle ride across Strines moor, when they hit a 20mm hole, of which there are many, going down hill, in the wet they will perhaps have a different perspective on so called intervention levels."
The council has four months to take remedial action or it could face a court hearing.
CTC Press Office
CDF was set up in 2001 by CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation in response to the case of Darren Coombes, a nine year old cyclist who suffered brain damage from a collision with a motorist. CTC became concerned after the driver’s insurers responded to Darren’s claim for damages by counter-suing his parents for contributory negligence because Darren was not wearing a helmet. Although the insurer’s counter-claim was ultimately defeated, CDF was formed in the aftermath to defend cyclists in similar precedent-setting cases.
CDF supported CTC in preparing a legal challenge to the Department for Transport’s proposed revisions to the Highway Code, which had the potential to leave cyclists open to both civil and criminal prosecutions if they did not use cycle facilities for any reason. The threat of legal action persuaded Ministers to clarify in the wording that the use of cycle facilities is not compulsory.